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What is the best way to automate emailing reports from Access using a virtual machine?

Posted on 2015-01-05
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Last Modified: 2016-02-23
I currently have an old desktop PC that is serving as my reporting computer. It is running Windows XP, and uses the windows task scheduler to open Access and run queries, some of which get emailed out using Outlook.

The PC has seen better days and we now are trying to transition to a virtual machine.  When the PC is working well, it does not require any user interaction. This is what we are shooting for with the virtual machine as well.  However, here are my issues:

1.  The VM is running Windows 7 and the task scheduler will not open Access to run a database.
2. When minimizing the VM, it seems to halt any DB application that was running.

What is the best way to get around these issues and have something that can be scheduled on the VM and run without having a user babysit it?

Thanks!
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Question by:Dominator1025
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Rey Obrero (Capricorn1) earned 500 total points
ID: 40532200
i suggest that you use a dedicated PC for this.
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by:PatHartman
ID: 40532212
I have only limited experience with VM and used it for isolated testing, not running a production application.  My understanding was that when the VM was inactive, everything stopped so this wouldn't work for you at all.  Virtual servers are different.  You might try that software but it may not run on a regular desktop.  You may have to run it on the server.

Desktop computers are  pretty cheap these days.  You can probably get a new one for under $250 that will be more than adequate to run the reports.  It will ultimately be cheaper than spending time on trying to make the VM solution work.

To get around the problem of directly running Access, I have used a batch file.  So, the scheduler runs a .bat file and the .bat file opens the reporting database.  In my case the database does a batch process that creates a file that needs to be Ftp'd to a different company.

I haven't attempted this with Win 8.1 (I'm avoiding that like the plague that it is) but it works fine with Win 7.  You can also check out the tools offered by FMS at www.fmsinc.com.  Some of them don't yet work with A2013 if you bought it with a subscription but A2010 and older would be fine.
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Expert Comment

by:Nick67
ID: 40532377
...to open Access and run queries, some of which get emailed out using Outlook.
Depending upon exactly what you are doing, and whether or not you have Outlook installed on a server class machine, but you can script ADO access to mdb files from VBScript files and/or from Outlook without a need for Access.

You could then suck out the required data out and punch it off.
The VM is always going to be problematic, as it is not going to go off without being the focus.
Doesn't mean that some script couldn't be created to bring it into focus with the Task scheduler, but it's a problem.

Why a VM?
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Author Comment

by:Dominator1025
ID: 40532392
Our IT group sold us on VM as a replacement saying it could do everything our PC was doing.  This is why I pay EE.  

I'm leaning towards scrapping the VM and asking them to give us a newer desktop. I'll let you know in the next day or so, as I'm starting to think they don't understand what we are trying to do.
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Expert Comment

by:Nick67
ID: 40532522
Before you say anything, test!
Create a task on the VM with a simple batch file or .vbs that will copy some dummy file to a directory with a changing time-based name.
Get the task running and let the VM fall out of focus.
Then see if the dummy files show up.

If they don't, you can demo to IT that the VM will not reliably do what you want.
Then the only folks with possible egg-on-face won't be you or us!
I ran a little test myself, with a virtualized Server 2008 running on Server Standard 2012.  Running in user context (which is what Access'd need) a batch file to do a copy DOES execute if the VM is minimized -- so maybe a VM on a server may do, but a VM on a regular workstation is unlikely to do what you need.
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LVL 84
ID: 40533209
IT companies love VM's because it almost entirely eliminates the need for on-site equipment, and they can more easily provide your tech support with VMs. Doesn't mean they're the best choice for you or your business - just means they're the best choice for the IT company!

That said, I like virtual machines, and run quite a few of them on my own server, but only for my own internal use and testing.
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